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Juan Munoz Untitled

cm 145 x 50 x 40
After studying at Croydon College and the Central School of Art and Design in London, Juan Muñoz made his debut in the mid-1980s with a series of sculptures that brought the human figure back to the center of artistic production. Muñozʼ work is characterized by powerful expressive tension. His figures move in real, tangible spaces, between illusion and fiction. His subjects, drawn from the Spanish visual tradition, literature and theater, are characterized by an isolated, silent, solitary atmosphere that seems to confine the figures, in part due to the exhibition setting created by the artist. The protagonists of "Conversation Pieces", one of his most famous series, are acrobats, dwarfs, dancers, and Asian figures with extremely expressive, melodramatic, and upsetting features, which interact among themselves. The viewer is invited to enter the scene populated by figures in conversation with one another while at the same time remaining excluded, placing solitude, alienation, and crisis of social relationships at the center of the artist’s work. The bronze piece "Untitled" anticipates the series "Many Times" (1999), made up of hundreds of nearly identical male figures with Asian features, which call to mind the terracotta army of the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Engaged in a silent conversation of gestures and glances, these small figures, bald, dressed like Chinese workers and prisoners, and with no feet, were inspired by a ceramic Art Nouveau bust. In this case, the usual relationship with the viewer sought by the artist is created through the particular gestural expressiveness of the figures, who seem to be greeting one another and conversing, but in an ambiguous, indefinable way.
On View
S. Wagstaff (ed.), Juan Muñoz: A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue (London, Tate Modern), London 2008. L. Cooke (ed.), Juan Muñoz: permítaseme una imagen…, exhibition catalogue (Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía), Madrid 2009. V. Todolí (ed.), Juan Muñoz: Double Bind & Around, exhibition catalogue (Milan, Hangar Bicocca), Milan-London 2015.
Photo Credits
Foto Patrizia Tocci
Legal status
Donation by Claudia Gian Ferrari
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